Thursday, October 8, 2009

A few candids

No history lesson tonight! DH and I are leaving early tomorrow AM for Colorado to spend a few days with friends. Thought I'd post a couple of miscellaneous photos before going.
Contemplating in the ruins of St. Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury.

Doesn't this statue make me look petite by comparison? (LOL) That's Her Majesty Queen Victoria on top.
Matthew the rescue dog with Sr. Pamela. He's adorable!
Here he is enjoying the rawhide stick I took him. I had thought, from the photo I'd seen of him, that he was a much larger dog. This chew stick will keep him busy for a while!

Stay well, be good!

Got all my errands done today
Going to see good friends and relax
I have such a good life

Monday, October 5, 2009

St. Augustine's Abbey & Henry VIII

In Canterbury:
Three Saxon Christian churches already stood on this site when, in 597, St. Augustine was sent from Rome to 'evangelize' the English. The not-yet Christian king, Ethelbert, allowed St. Augustine to build a Benedictine abbey on these grounds. Over the centuries, the abbey was added to until it became a large complex. Many of the Angle and Saxon kings are buried here, and many of the early archbishops of Canterbury.
This is the chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary:

This is one of the newer graves! (Date is 1063). Several date back to the 6th and 7th centuries.
Today, of course, the abbey is in ruins. It was destroyed by Henry VIII, along with all the monasteries in England. Now Henry wasn't quite as depraved as he's usually portrayed. He was certainly every woman's worst nightmare husband. But his reasons for what he did were sound. England had just been through a thirty-year civil war (the War of the Roses) over the succession to the throne, causing the land and its people terrible misery and poverty. Henry needed a male heir to ensure there would be no war over the succession after his death. His wives (all six) produced among them only one very weak surviving son (by his 3rd wife), who died at age 15.

Although popes had granted divorces and annulments to royalty for just this reason, the pope at the time, Clement VII, would not annul the marriage of Henry and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. She was the aunt of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, a Spanish king, and he didn't want his aunt's marriage annulled as it would prevent their family's heirs from eventually ruling England. And Charles had Pope Clement right where he wanted him -- in prison!

Additionally, the English monasteries had become very wealthy. Rich landowners would leave vast tracts of land to monasteries so the monks would pray for their souls after their death. The monasteries received rents from the common people who 'sharecropped' the land. The monasteries then sent huge sums of money to Rome. Rome, in turn, gave the money to either France or Spain, whichever was currently in favor, to fight against England during centuries of constant warfare. This didn't set well with the English, understandably.

So the usual story about Henry VIII and the English Reformation leaves out a lot that explains what it was really all about. The amazing outcome of this mega-soap opera was Elizabeth I, the child of Henry and his 2nd wife Anne Boleyn. Elizabeth was without a doubt England's greatest monarch, male or female. She kept England safe from foreign enemies. (She said, "I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England, too.") The arts flourished (think Shakespeare!). English explorers sailed the seas (think Drake). English scientists made great discoveries (think Newton).

Not being a queen!
History is so interesting.
Wildflowers can grow from ruins.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Really Olde Things

This is a Stone Age hill fort. The people would have dug the ditch (second photo) using cattle's hip blade bones as shovels and red deer antlers as pickaxes. And we think we work hard.

This next one needs no naming! Whatever Stonehenge was meant for -- and no one knows for certain -- it has to have been very important to the people who built it. I have now seen many 'henges' as these stone circles are called, and none of the others had stones which came any higher than my chest. These are unbelievably huge, and each must have a good bit underground to have kept upright for so many thousands of years. See the person in the right background to note the scale.

I am almost back to Central Daylight Time (which will switch again soon!). The accumulated To-Dos and the new commitments that come with fall are keeping me swamped.

Fall is here (I love it).
DGG's 10th birthday - she's a pip!
DS's 42nd birthday coming up.